Isn’t it wonderful that as we near Ramadan each year so many cool events and happenings begin to make it across our social media, personal chat groups, and the like. So many efforts to bring people together and share in as much good as possible really ties in well in getting into the Ramadan spirit of things. I pray that each and every one of us is blessed with another Ramadan, full of personal growth that continues beyond the blessed month.
This year Solace ‘for revert sisters in difficulty’ are hosting an iftar event for the whole family. Tickets are still on sale, and though I won’t be attending this year I really want to share this opportunity with you. Please support this awesome charity in whichever way you can.
I was asked to participate in their auction this year by donating a Stori Dori with all proceeds going to their charity, and was excited to jump at the chance to be a part of this event even in some small way.
It got me thinking a lot about revert sisters and my experience with those I’ve come to connect with in the last 8 years. I say 8 years because I wasn’t really ‘practicing’ before then and do somewhat feel like a revert myself.
I grew up in a secular Turkish household, with Islamic ‘superstitious’ tendencies. That doesn’t seem right really but it’s the only way I feel I can describe my experiences. Ultimately I believed in Allah and His last Messenger, but our actions seemed to be steeped in superstition and cultural beliefs when it came to participation.
Though I’m still exploring my identity and what that means to me I wonder how things would have turned out if I were to have a sit down conversation with myself at the beginning of my journey, or a revert sister who is about to embark on theirs.I know, imagining conversational scenarios is like a gift of mine.
Heyyy sister, sis, sistren, sissy, you’re gonna hear a lot of variations throughout your life. It means something different to everyone because let’s face it, not everyone loves their sister let alone gets on with them. I wouldn’t really know since I grew up with brothers. I do like to think of sisters in deen that I’m close with, as the sisters I never had.
Sooo.. this is new! You’ve just made one of the greatest decisions of your life. How’s it going? Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. Still do. There’s so much to learn and the learning curve is steep. You’re going to get a lot of well meaning people try to push and pull you along one way or another. Take a pause. They do mean well. But move when you feel moved to.
See, any meaningful change has roots in sincerity; the right intention coupled with the right action, and the dedication to this effort ad infinitum. Just like how we can be dedicated to go for that cupcake or fancy cup of coffee, you want it… You feel the need to have it, and you do whatever it takes to get it. That’s how I sometimes see learning and developing through this deen. I say sometimes because the way we respond to needs varies and changes. But the principal of it, recognition of the need and the generation of ideas for the actions that will bring us closer to fulfilling that need is universal.
There is much to learn. So much growing to do. So don’t rush into it. Pick one thing you wanna change right now. That excites you to doing it right (for yourself and for Allah). It may not be wearing hijab, covering up all your tattoos, changing your diet, getting married. That’s ok. This could be day one or day elevenhundredandfifteen etc. Salah, yes, learning salah is crucial. The sooner you get started on that the better. Remember Who you are doing it for.
But that’s like, with everything. Remember Who you are doing it for. Remember Who really wants to hear from you. To connect with you and give you everything and more that will bring out the best in you. Even if it goes on a detour to bring out the worst in you first. Qur’an – the book of our lifetime and beyond. Starting here and keeping it as a constant companion along your way, and you won’t be sorry.
It’s all about to get really intense.
Oh sister, you just reverted? Here, wear this hijab. You need to change your name to a ‘Muslim’ one. Let’s find you a husband. Here’s all the books I had on my shelf that I haven’t read but you SHOULD read them. It’s important for you to KNOW how this deen thing works. Haram, haram, haram, halal – but check with so-and-so sheikh first to see if it’s legit.
It’s alllll going to come at you and more. But that’s ok. It really is. Because the best thing about being human is you get to choose. Even when it feels like you don’t have a choice or so many options are constantly thrust upon you to take. You can still do this. At. Your. Own. Pace.
No change is as deep and meaningful as the one you fully immerse yourself in and commit to. Again, people mean well. But you have to think, if rushing the process and completely adopting a new identity from the outside in were to be feasible within a few weeks or months, how easily can it all be undone?
We all want to fit in.
If I don’t look like this or that they won’t like me.
Concern yourself with what you need to do and wear when you are about to perform an act of worship and the quality of your focus to the ibadah at hand, because no one likes wasted effort am I right? But outside of that take your tiiiiiime. Commit to the next step when you are absolutely sure and got your intention game STRONG. Then no one can sway you this way and that. It’s all you, baby girl. Not because a brother, a mother, a shirker, or sheikh-er told you so.
And remember to remake the best intention you possibly can make every time you can. It builds a healthy mindset and develops courage. But you will forget. You will forget again and again. It’s the coming back, and making it right again and again that pleases Allah.
MARRIAGE. Now that you’ve accepted Islam it’s time to find you a husband!
Nope the fudge out of that situation. Especially if some well meaning person who doesn’t even know your last name is trying to match make you. Even if they know your last name. NOPE. Intentions alone are not good enough m’fraid. You will be underestimated and undervalued from day one. Believe none of it. And if you find yourself agreeable to the whims and fancies presented to you, you are worth so much more. Take time to discover the awesomeness you truly are.
Marriage is definitely one of the greatest human experiences but how well do you know yourself right now? How well are you coping with your issues? Are you on good or bad terms with them? Where do you feel you’re at in your life? Listen, if you can abstain from jumping into bed with someone, avoid friendly male communication beyond family, long enough to sort your life out, and figuring out your values, boundaries, ambitions, and plans, then getting married will be a lot sweeter. Not saying don’t bother but don’t COMMIT because at first it seems like a good fit. Give yourself time to figure you out. That way you’ll recognise it in your hubby to be. Also know that there is certain growing and discovery that only comes with marriage.
Want the best for yourself. Learn about the best traits and see how many you have and which ones you really want to have. You may feel like you’ve found the best man to marry because they sweet talked you so good your feet never touched the ground, and after you’re married it may seem a lot different. If there are certain traits that are deal breakers for you, that you absolutely cannot abide by, have the courage to walk away. Before or after marriage takes place. Divorce is not a dirty word.
Getting married and having babies is not your only option. Yes, they’re both great. How ready do you feel to commit to them both? It may not even be on your radar or you may even be longing for both but haven’t yet got there. There is deep meaning and purpose behind it all. Find yours, be content and trust in the process.
For the love of Allah, please do not do this alone. You have so many rights and people tend to only tell you their version of it. Do not be fooled. If you have family who have got your back and want for you what you want for you, or you have great friends (even if they aren’t Muslims) who have proven their worth, consult them. Tell them what you want and what you’re looking for. Let them support you. And you may not even have that but that’s still ok. Make connections, learn how to use better judgement to get to know their character. Do your research. Allah will send you everything you need to make the right choice so pay attention to all the signs.
When someone recommends you to watch, listen to, take the advice of a particular teacher ask them why. Ask them why they feel they are the best person to listen to and what advice they took/done differently/how taking that advice has impacted their lives. You can get a better sense of what feels right. Your gut instinct is very much a real thing and it’s always working for you.
And this is all it really comes down to. Some may say you have to dress and behave a certain way to be a Muslim. But I say this…
be you, and do your deen.
It’ll all work out for as long as you keep coming back to Allah. Change is inevitable, growth is going to change you. And for as long as your heart is in the right place you’ll grow for the better.
As you’re meant to.